I’m thankful for the Pharisees

This might so strange to some of you, but I am thankful for the Pharisees. I know that Jesus constantly rebuked them for being hypocrites; for their insides not matching what they were presenting to the world on the outside, but I’m thankful for them because here is a real life example of the condition of my own heart. Whenever things are going south for me my tendency is always to pull up my boot straps, suck it up, and try harder. If I’m not praying enough–I pray harder. If I’m not reading the Bible enough–I read more. If I’m struggling with a particular sin–I put up more fences so I don’t go near that sin. Even though these things in themselves are good they cannot be the manner in which I am fixed.

These are the things the Pharisees did and yet Jesus still called them white-washed tombs, brood of vipers, and hypocrites. God thank you for the Pharisees so that I can see that there must be something else that fixes me from the inside. That part, coming up….



Evangelism Scale


Evangelism Scale

I’ve been working on a scale that will help people identify where people are at to better share Christ and disciple them. I took the Ingel Scale (and modified it) and the Grey Matrix (and modified it) and then combined them. It’s helpful for me so hopefully it will be helpful for you too. If you would like a detailed explanation let me know.

Gospel Coach

Anthony Orzo, Kyle Whitehead, Bradley Robinson and myself spent the day in Orlando for a Gospel Coach Workshop with Scott Thomas, Director of the Acts 29 Network. Thomas co-authored a book on how to coach/mentor disciples with Gospel intentionality and centrality. Gospel Coach integrates three types of mentoring relationships into one coaching relationship. A Gospel Coach serves as a discipler, a spiritual guide, and a coach. We were challenged today and thoroughly enjoyed each others’ company.

We’re looking forward to implementing some of what we learned at CCC & Restoration so we can be better at making disciples who glorify God. Here are seven key things I personally took from the book/workshop:

1. Every leader needs a coach.

2. A Gospel Coach shepherds the sheep through four key principles: 1) Know the Sheep. 2) Feed the Sheep. 3) Lead the Sheep. 4) Protect the Sheep.

3. A Gospel Coach doesn’t simply hang out over coffee or lunch with the disciple, rather intentionally walks toward a goal by accomplishing objectives.

4. “The Gospel is the motive and means for all we do in life and in ministry. When both coach and ministry leader are operating under the influence of the Holy Spirit, applying the Gospel Story to each other’s life, praying together, encouraging one another, and allowing the coach’s influence to examine the heart motivation while also applying any necessary skill training, God is glorified, and the Kingdom is advanced.” p. 33

5. Where typical coaching has fallen short by the problem is out there and the answer is inside, a Gospel Coach understands the human condition and knows the problem is inside and the answer is only in the Gospel. “The Gospel is the ultimate solution for every problem and issue we face and is obviously something outside of ourselves. Jesus Christ possesses the Gospel. It is the supernatural power of God graciously given to us by the His Spirit.” p. 41

6. The Gospel Coach is to produce a disciple who “1) has his identity deeply rooted in Christ as a child of God, 2) is worshiping God with his heart, soul, spirit, and might, 3) is united with a Gospel community and, 4) is on mission to all people as a herald of the Good News of Jesus Christ.” p. 42

7. “A wise Gospel Coach will learn to distinguish between a disciple’s selfish drive and the leader’s humble passion to obediently follow God’s calling on one’s life.” p. 57

This is only hitting on about a third of the book and missing a major portion of the workshop, but without giving it all away let me encourage you to go out and buy the book if you like what you’ve read so far. The book has been bought by Zondervan so it will not be for sale for sometime but keep your eye out for it in the near future. Highly recommended to anyone who is investing in someone else and being that we are called by Jesus himself to make disciples, that would include anyone who calls themselves a Christian.

Stolen Purse Part 2

Like I said in my previous post, our car was broken into at the beach and Angela’s purse was stolen. As fast as we could shut off our credit cards the thief was racking up charges. After a couple hours of frustration we finally came around and gave it to God. We just hoped that we’d be able to see some blessings come out of this that it would make it worth us going through it. Once we shut off all our cards I returned to the beach to fill out a police report and this is where the blessings begin.

First Blessing: A witness comes forth. He and his wife had been sitting on a balcony out of sight and watched the whole thing go down. They originally thought the guy was a repo man but when they saw me return and the cops show up they knew something was off. Although they didn’t have all the details they remembered the make and color of the van, a description of the guy and three digits off the license plate. This was enough to get a pretty good idea of who this guy was.

Second Blessing: Walmart got great footage of the girl helping the guy who was using Ang’s credit card. The footage followed them both out and witnessed her handing him a big screen TV and the receipt. This footage helped them put a higher bail amount on them and to identify the woman who was helping him. I only wish they would have made an arrest before he traded the TV for drugs.

Third Blessing: Alex Kirk was on his way home from church on Sunday morning (the day after) and left me a message saying that they thought they found the guy. He was a white Ford Astro van pulled over and a big guy in hand cuffs on the ground between them. I called the detective and apparently they had chased him and he was throwing credit cards out the window until they stopped him. He had hit another car on Saturday night and a couple more Sunday morning.

Fourth Blessing: My neighbor left me a message Sunday morning and told me that he had something for me. When I got home he asked me if Ang had lost her driver’s license. At first I was afraid the guy had come by and dropped it in our driveway, but later found out that some guy had been riding his bike over the Granada bridge and found cards scattered all over the bike path. I guess our thief had tried to throw all of Ang’s stuff into the river and they didn’t carry. Some of these cards like our insurance cards were made of paper and yet they didn’t blow over. We got all the cards back except for one missing $50 gift card.

Fifth Blessing: Betty Kolkebeck, a sweet lady at our church gave us a card on Monday with a $50 check in it, the same amount that was missing on the gift card. At first I felt bad because I wasn’t asking for help but then felt extremely grateful because Betty said the Spirit moved her to give it.

Sixth Blessing: Toyota quoted us $205 to fix our glove box. Another friend stepped forward and said he could fix it for much cheaper.

Seventh Blessing: The police acted so quickly on this and were so helpful along the way. Captain Rich Gardner was awesome and it’s so good to know that two more criminals are off the street and our beaches are safer for our families.

Thank you God that you allowed this to happen. I’m so thankful that you are in control even when we are not and that you used our situation to potentially save others from the same misfortune. Thanks for reminding us what is truly important in this life and bringing our family closer together and closer to you.

Stolen Purse: Part 1

When my family moved to the coast last July, we were thrilled for the new adventure but not so much about the beach. Ang and I have given it a shot but we’re still not beach people. This past Saturday we were in Ormond Beach at the Standish ramp watching Westyn chase seagulls up and down the beach and enjoying some perfect Florida Spring weather and I looked at Angela, “You know, I think I’m coming around on the beach. I think we could be beach people.” Angela concurred. The change of mind was short-lived.

To make a long story short, we returned to a car with an open passenger door, a broken glove box and Ang’s purse was gone. As fast as we could cancel credit cards the criminal was using them. In fact, when we checked the records later there was a card denied at Walmart but while we were in the process of canceling the next one it was buying a big screen TV. The most uncertain part was that we couldn’t cancel our checking account until Monday (this was about 1:30 Saturday afternoon) so we had to just wait and see how many checks were going to be written over the next 36 hours. We’re never going back to the beach again!

We felt violated. We had lost control and felt an urgency and uneasiness that put our stomachs in knots. Ang was missing credit cards, her driver’s license, insurance card, gift cards, and who knows what else. Now we just had to sit and wait. After three hours of intense concern we handed it over the Lord.

The first night we learned three valuable lessons.

1. Don’t leave valuables in your car, especially at the beach.

2. We live in a fallen and broken world where people do bad things. We have to lock our doors for safety and it’s unfortunate we need locks to being with if you think about it. Thankfully God has called us to be co-workers in redeeming a broken world. As long as sin exists so does mission and on this side of heaven means we’ll always be busy.

3. It’s just money and God is still in control. However stressful this might be we soon realized that there are much worse things that could have occurred. We have several friends who have lost loved ones so how are we going to worry about losing some money? Really? So we changed our mindset and begin looking at the good that might come out of this. Our thought was, “God if you catch this guy from our break-in to keep him from stealing from others it might hurt more than it hurt us, that would be well worth it.” Sometimes God allows you to see fruit from this kind of situation and sometimes He doesn’t. Thankfully, this is the former and the events that unfolded next proved that God is in control even when we’re not.

A Note From Westyn’s Sunday School Teacher

I was going to write about a story from my son Westyn, but his Sunday school teacher Patricia told it better than I can. Here it is:

Being taught by a two and a half year old

by Patricia Keough-Wilson on Monday, February 14, 2011 at 6:36pm

Numbers 14:9 “Don’t be afraid-the Lord is with us.” We have taught that memory verse adapted for little ones to 2 & 3 year olds for 10 weeks. Some parrot it back. I wonder what they are learning if anything but I want them to have verses kept in their hearts, verses they can use in life, verses that keep them connected to their God. Westin, not yet 3,  demonstrated he understands this verse deep in his heart. When Westin was frightened by a loud truck, his mom prompted him to think of his memory verse. Westin then says, “Don’t be afraid of monster trucks, the Lord is with us.” You got it Westin. All day I have been putting in words after the Don’t be afraid of phrase. Don’t be afraid of disapointment, the Lord is with me. Don’t be afraid of grieving a friend gone to be with the Lord, the Lord is with me and with Jim. Every little fear I have had recently caves when I voice that fear after Don’t be afraid of…. After all the Lord is with me and with all believers. Westin got it and maybe I am getting it. Truly I think I should let Westin teach next Sunday.

New Year’s Resolution

I started writing out my New Year’s Resolutions and I had to erase the first one “Be More Outward Focused” and start over. Not that my first resolve wasn’t noble, but it wasn’t worthy to be #1 on the list. #2 was going to be “Get out of Debt” which is a great resolve considering I’m a slave to my school debt and credit cards. However, this wasn’t good enough to be first on the list either.

The Bible tells us in Matthew 6:33 to “33 Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” I needed to start my resolution list over because I was reminded that the times in my life when things were going the best for me was when I sought God and His Kingdom first. Not that I had no troubles or problems during those times, but rather my heart was prepared to face whatever obstacles were thrown at me because I had first things first. C.S. Lewis talked about first things when he said, “Aim at heaven, and you will get earth thrown in; aim at earth, and you will get neither.” When first things are first in my life all the rest seem to fall into place. Put something else first, no matter how good it may be, and everything else falls a part.

So, my new years resolution for 2011 is to seek God, his kingdom and his righteousness first. Let the rest of my life flow from that!

Thanks Giving

Now that we’ve had thanks, it’s time for giving. I learned a valuable lesson yesterday. I bought a new artificial Christmas tree to replace our old one (which is the tall and narrow sort that we got to fit in our small town house years ago) and now our new residence has enough space for a regular size tree. I found a good deal on one at Lowes and after a long hunt by me, a holiday temp and an employee, we brought home a new tree.

Before I even got it out of the back of the car I had a conversation with a neighbor who said they were only buying one present for their son this year because of the tight economy and his work being slow.  I’m thinking that I just spent a good chunk of change on a fake Christmas tree when I already had one that worked just fine. So I had a hard time sleeping that night over the conviction of my purchase and I realized how easy it was for me to just swipe the credit card and be consumeristic. Needless to say, the tree went back to the store to live with it’s plastic family.

The experience was worth it to get my focus back where it should be. There are many people around us in need, people far less fortunate than my neighbor. Even if you feel you don’t have much, there are others around you who have less than you. If you see someone in need, give this Christmas season.

There are so many ways to do this. For example, look for people in your neighborhood or workplace that may need some help. Or go to your church and see if they have an Angel Tree or some other way you could help. If you are not part of a church, Walmart and some other stores have lists of people you can help.

Hope this Christmas season is a blessing for you and I pray that you find that giving to others is far more rewarding.

1 John 3:17-18If any one of you has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in you? 18 Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Celebrating today I have to admit that I am thankful for so many things. God has blessed me and more ways that I could have ever imagined. Here is a lame attempt to list everything I am thankful for.

1. Jesus Christ. Eleven years ago my life was drastically changed when I encountered the power of the Gospel. My life changed from depression and trouble to joy and hope. Thank you God for your grace.

2. My family. I have been married for six and a half years to my beautiful wife and have enjoyed two and half years with my adventure boy, Westyn. In three to four months we will be adding another son to the family.Thank you God for my family.

3. My church family. I’ve only been at Christ Community Church for five months but they seem like they have been family for quite awhile. What a great feeling to be on mission with people who love Jesus and making Him known.

4. I get to go home (Wisconsin) for Christmas this year. I know not every year I’ll be able to make it home, but I am thankful I can this year. I have five nieces and three nephews that Westyn and me are going to love to play with this season.

5. The huge Thanksgiving Bash I get to be a part of today. My brother-in-law is home from California, Ang’s uncle and aunt from Seattle and uncle and aunt from South Dakota are all here as well, not including the rest of the family and a few neighbors to boot. We are going to have quite the celebration today.

6. My mission. I love that I get to spend my life worshiping God and sharing the Gospel with other people. I remember a time in my life when it was all about me and I am thankful that I get to share the God of the Universe with this universe.

7. Thank you God for our health, our house, our cars, our friendships, for where we live, and for all the other blessings we often overlook each day. You are so good!